June 16, 2011

Flying Dog Tap Takeover

Yesterday, Robin and I hit Frisco Grill & Taphouse in Columbia, MD for a very exciting Flying Dog event featuring 22 of their beers on tap!

I started with the Coffee Stout, which is brewed with Black Dog Coffee. I reviewed it back in January and was very pleased to find it on the nitro tap at Frisco. The nitro gives it an even smoother, creamier mouth feel than it already has from a bottle. There was also more vanilla plus sweeter coffee and milk chocolate notes.

Robin began with a glass of the rare and elusive In de Wildeman Farmhouse IPA. This is an unfiltered American IPA with Citra hops and fermented with saison yeast. In de Wildeman is a tap room in Amsterdam that asked Flying Dog to brew an exclusive beer for their 25th anniversary. Its first appearance in the USA was on April 12 at Churchkey in DC. It is not being bottled for commercial sale in the U.S., although 15 bottles did exist at one point, in 750mL form. It lives up to its classification as a "farmhouse IPA". Aromas of lemon, honey, orange, apple, and pear, with flavors to match along with a light barnyard funk. Absolutely delicious beer!

From here on, Robin and I shared everything.

Imperial IPA Single Hop Centennial
I get excited when I hear the phrase "single hop". I know it's kind of trendy right now, but in my opinion that's not a bad thing. From drinking single hopped beers, I've learned how to better identify aromas and flavors and have an easier time picking the hop varieties present in beers using more than one. Centennial gives you floral aromas and a distinct, earthy bitterness. Flying Dog's Single Hop Centennial reminded me a lot of Founders' Centennial IPA.

Imperial IPA Single Hop Simcoe
I'm a big fan of Simcoe hops, so it's no surprise I liked this better than the Single Hop Centennial. The Simcoe is more sweet and grassy rather than earthy like the Centennial. Orange, some grapefruit, melon, lemon. A little more variety of flavors going on than other single hopped beers I've had. Hides the 10% ABV very well.

Barrel Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter
Aromas of cocoa powder, mocha coffee, slight hazelnut, and oak. Flavors follow, along with bourbon, black licorice, and a little cinnamon. Definite alcohol bite, but with thick body that coats and warms the throat like really good hot chocolate. Funny... it's almost summer now and I'm still craving darker, often heavier beers.

Woody Creek White
Wit beers are definitely not one of my go-to styles, but I wanted something lighter to go with my 'pale ale corn dogs' and fries. This is a decent example of the style, with typical coriander, orange peel, lemon, etc. Nice, fluffy head that lasts. Dry finish. Refreshing.

Our final beer was Double Dog on nitro. The aromas seemed subtle for a pale ale (or Double Pale Ale as they say), but this was probably due to the thick nitro fueled head keeping things from leaping into the air around the glass. The flavors are definitely not subdued though. Strong malt backbone, rich caramel, molasses, honey, grapefruit, orange, and nutty. It made me crave pecan pie! I'm assuming the 'Double Pale Ale' title refers to the 11.5% alcohol content, the same way 'Imperial' does for stronger IPA's, porters, etc. I loved the variety of flavors and addition of nitrogen that resulted in one great tasting beer with aspects of a pale ale, brown ale, cream ale, stout, and IPA all in one!

In addition to the 7 we tried, there were 15 other Flying Dog beers available:
Backyard Ale
Centennial Single Hop, cask
Dog Schwarz
Doggie Style Pale Ale
Garde Dog
Gonzo, nitro
Horn Dog Barleywine
In-Heat Wheat
Lucky SOB Irish Red
Old Scratch Amber
Raging Bitch
Road Dog Porter
Snake Dog IPA
Tire Bite Golden Ale

On an additional note, Flying Dog recently announced plans to pull distribution from 13 states. This includes states like Alaska, which brings in a very low volume and shipping logistics are difficult, and Washington and Oregon, strong craft beer states that are already heavily saturated with and supportive of their own local, northwest breweries. CEO Jim Caruso stated, "..our primary focus would be [Maryland and] the contiguous states around it," and went on to say, "We can't afford to be short on beer in our own backyard." So expect to see a lot more events and promotions from Flying Dog, along with (hopefully) more rare and limited releases. Cheers!

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